Import - Live Fish

Live Fish Imports

USDA Guide Sheet for Live Finfish Imports

Live finfish of most species may be imported into the United States without import requirements from USDA. However, 8 species of fish that are susceptible to the disease Spring viremia of carp (SVC) have recently come under USDA oversight. These species are: common carp, including koi carp (Cyprinus carpio), goldfish (Carassius auratus), grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idellus), silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix), bighead carp (Aristichthys nobilis), Crucian carp (Carassius carassius), tench (Tinca tinca), and sheatfish (Silurus glanis).

New regulations have been developed for the importation of live fish and their gametes (eggs and milt) from these species. The regulations pertain to commercial shipments and to fish brought in to the US as personal baggage.

Live fish of these species may continue to be imported, provided they are accompanied by a USDA import permit and a veterinary health certificate issued by a full-time veterinary officer or Competent Authority of the National Government of the exporting country.

Importers must now use new identifying Harmonized Tariff Structure import codes assigned by the International Trade Commission for these species on shipping manifests and invoices. The following codes are now in effect:

Applicable HTS Codes
0301.10.00.10 - Koi and Common Carp
0301.10.00.20 - Goldfish and Crucian Carp
0301.93.00.10 - Grass, Silver and Bighead Carp
0301.99.00.10 - Tench and Sheatfish
0511.91.00.10 - Fertilized Eggs or milt of these species

HTS import codes for other species of finfish may be obtained from brokers or the ITC.


A USDA import permit (form VS17-129) must be used to import the live SVC-susceptible fish listed above. Import permit applications may be obtained from the USDA's National Import and Export Services, Unit 39, 4700 River Rd., Riverdale, MD 20737-1231, or by downloading the form VS 17-129 along with the Instructions on Completing the VS Form 17-129.

Once the application is completed, it may be faxed to the number on the application. Importers should allow 7-10 business days for processing. An original permit must accompany shipments of live SVC-susceptible fish or their gametes.

User Fee Information

Health Certificates

The veterinary health certificate from the exporting country should be issued in the following format:

The health certificate must confirm the following:

Port Inspections

In addition to these document requirements, the 8 species of SVC-susceptible fish included in the regulations must enter the US through a list of designated ports where USDA Veterinary Services personnel are available to process the shipments. These ports are: Los Angeles, CA; San Francisco, CA; Miami, FL; Tampa, FL; Atlanta, GA; Honolulu, HI; Chicago, IL; Boston, MA; Detroit, MI; Newark, NJ; Buffalo-Niagara, NY; New York, NY; Portland, OR; Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX; Seattle, WA; Sumas, WA; Otay Mesa, CA, and San Juan, PR.

SVC-susceptible fish must be imported only through the above ports. If they attempt to enter the US through other, non-designated ports, they will be refused entry by DHS personnel.

Importers of live fish from these 8 species must notify the VS Port Veterinarian 72 hrs. in advance of the expected arrival of shipments to be sure that clearance procedures are expedited in a timely manner. Port veterinarians may be contacted through their respective VS Area Offices (see list below). A User Fee of $120.00 per hour (including travel time if applicable) will apply for port inspections of imported consignments of SVC-susceptible fish.

The contact information for the Veterinary Services Area Offices for the above ports may be found at the Animal Imports Port List web site.

SVC-susceptible fish species may be imported to the US under conditions of transit to a third country under slightly different conditions. An import permit is still needed, but such shipments do not need to be accompanied by an export health certificate, provided they meet the following conditions while in transit:

Holding facilities for transiting fish must be approved in advance by APHIS. For a holding facility to be approved, the following conditions must be met:

Fish that do not meet these new entry requirements will be refused entry to the US. Importers will have the option of immediately re-exporting refused entry shipments, or the shipments will be destroyed and disposed of at their expense.

For additional information please contact us at:

National Import and Export Services
4700 River Road, Unit 39
Riverdale, MD 20737
301-851-3300 Telephone
301-734-4704 Fax